I came across this article and found it quite interesting. It's neat to see de Botton's ideas illustrated. Personally I quite enjoy the style, and would love to see this idea made a reality!
Also relevant is de Botton's plans to build his own atheist temple.
I've pasted the article below:
Bartlett School of Architecture
student Kacper Chmielewski has developed a new style of architecture
specifically for atheists, including a shrine to the oak tree (+
Building on the philosophies of Alain de Botton, who in 2012 advocated Atheist temples for London, Chmielewski
proposes a series of structures intended to inspire awe without any
references to religion. He calls the project Atheistic Architecture.
The designer claims that by 2040, less than one per cent of Britain's
population will be a member of the Anglican Church. But there are still
55 churches in the City of London, which he believes have become wasted
spaces – so he wants to replace them.
"The institution of church has become a monument to the past, both in
terms of the community and its architecture," Chmielewski explained.
"These beautiful temples are decreasingly used for spiritual reasons
and are more often being converted into commercial coffee shops – a
saddening waste of their potential."
"In Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton writes about the need for a
new typology for atheistic temples," the designer told Dezeen. "He
perfectly describes a sense of nostalgia that I feel for religious
"This project is a response accommodating both the discourse between
nostalgia for ecclesiastical beauty and the rejection of fallen
Chmielewski's proposal centres around St Mary-Le-Bow, the historic
church on Cheapside designed by Christopher Wren to replace a
predecessor destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.
He proposes converting the building into what he describes as "an
ever-evolving open cathedral" celebrating the life cycle of the oak
tree. The aim is to create a building that incites awe through an
awareness of the scale of nature and the universe.
"In today's world, society deprives atheists of places where they can
submerse themselves in a moment of solitude, feel a part of something
greater, or perhaps connect with nature and the universe," explained
The structure would feature a facade made up of 39,999 sheets
of marble with gold trims – referencing the many generations of humanity
– as well as a roof terrace for quiet contemplation, and a celebration
hall for events.
It would also house the headquarters and library for the British
Humanist Association, a non-profit organisation that works on behalf of
Chmielewski's designs, laid out in a series of intricate drawings,
intentionally draw on elements of Cubist architecture. Imagined on a
city scale, he describes the new typology as "waging war with the
previous system of values".
"Atheistic architecture opposes religious hierarchy between a deity
and its creations. It replaces it with scientific detailing, mimicking
nature's incredible spread in infinite detail," he added.
Atheistic Architecture was completed as part of the master programme
at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. Chmielewski was part
of Unit 12, which is led by tutors Jonathan Hill, Elizabeth Dow, Matthew
Butcher, and which this year focussed on monuments and ruins within the